'House' preteens won't trash


A scrawny, earnest boy named DJ (Mitchel Musso) and his chunky, blustery pal Chowder (Sam Lerner), suffering comically from the onslaught of pubescence, brave the innards of a famished haunted house - it eats toys and people - with the help of a fetching girls-school whiz named Jenny (Spencer Locke) in Monster House. You could call this elaborate animated concoction a coming-of-age tale if coming-of-age meant spinning in place.

The movie's biggest selling-point for youngsters is the cutting-edge digital wizardry that transforms the voice actors' physical performances into nuanced cartoons and places them at the center of a digital frolic. (The actors spent 42 days on black-box soundstages wearing wired rigs called motion-capture suits, allowing computers to trace their every movement, gesture and expression.)

Monster House (Sony) With the voices of Mitchel Musso, Sam Lerner, Spencer Locke, Steve Buscemi, Nick Cannon and Maggie Gyllenhaal. Directed by Gil Kenan. Rated PG. Time 91 minutes.

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